Czech President Vaclav Klaus addressed the UN General Assembly session on Friday, and rejected unilateral steps in the dispute between Israel and Palestine. Palestine wants to file a controversial application for U.N. membership. Mr Klaus said it took two sides and an innovative approach to overcome old and rigid thinking. A solution, he said, could not come through unilateral steps, whether imposed by the UN or otherwise. The president also used the dissolution of Czechoslovakia as an example, saying that the solution had come from within the region itself, rather than having been brought about by external mediators.
The Czech ambassador to Libya, Josef Koutský, may be returning to Tripoli in October, the Foreign Ministry says. One ministry employee is already in the country assessing the situation and determining security requirements for the embassy. Mr Koubský was withdrawn in February when the insurgency broke out. The Czech Republic recognised the National Transitional Council as Libya’s legitimate representatives in late August. The rapid response force of the Czech police will be facilitating the reopening of the embassy and may remain there on a permanent basis.
The Coalition of Private Physicians reports it is planning a protest aimed at the Health Ministry, which it accuses of reneging on key agreements. The association signed a joint agreement with the ministry in the summer covering cooperation on the preparation of legislation, the earnings of private physicians and moving care from hospitals to outpatient departments. Based on the ministry’s response to a dispute with insurance companies, the coalition - which associates 20,000 doctors – fears that the state plans to earmark a critically low amount of money for private medical facilities in 2012. It also says the Health Ministry has not been consulting changes and proposals with it. Current developments, the coalition says, could threaten the very existence of private medicine in Czech health care.
An alliance of ecologists, communities, businessmen, and others have asked the government to commit funds from the sale of emissions vouchers to improving the energy efficiency of buildings. The group asks that the funds be put towards insulating houses, changing windows and modernising heating systems. On Thursday the government approved free emissions vouchers for energy companies and other polluters that will save them 138 billion crowns. The companies in question will receive 39% of vouchers issued between 2013 and 2020 and must invest the savings in decreasing their ecological footprint. The rest of the vouchers may be purchased.
The Czech Film and Television Academy has selected the animated feature film Alois Nebel as the Czech candidate for the foreign film category of the Academy Awards next year. The black and white film, which uses a unique animating technology called "rotoscoping", is based on a cult cartoon novel written by Jaroslav Rudis and Jaromir 99. It is set at an out-of-the way railway station in the mountains near the Polish border in the 1980s. The film was successfully presented at the prestigious International Film Festival in Venice a couple of weeks ago, will have its Czech premiere on September 29.
The Municipal Court of Brno has ordered suspended sentences for six youths who held a banner reading “Europe, rise up” at a May Day demonstration this year. The court based its ruling on the testimony of an expert in extremism, who asserted that the youths, who are associated with the banned, right-wing Workers’ Party, were referring to a Nazi slogan. The head of the party’s successor organisation says they will file a protest. Such a protest however would lead to a full hearing, as the use of a court order allows the court to impose mild punishments without hearing the litigants.
Prime Minister Petr Nečas says he is greatly disturbed by the behaviour of his finance minister, Miroslav Kalousek, in recent weeks and months, and ascribed it to a poor medical condition. The remarks came after Mr Kalousek made a harsh attack on the PM in the daily Lidové noviny, where he said Mr Nečas had only the mercy of Civic Democrat “godfathers” to thank for his post, among other things. The Prime Minister said he was distressed by the psychological and medical condition of the finance minister and was worried about him. On Wednesday Mr Kalousek got out of his car to smack a young man who had yelled out that he was a crook and would hang. Later he reportedly had a vulgar outburst when a colleague told him the incident was un-gentlemanly.
Czech political leaders have continued to respond light-heartedly to an incident in which the finance minister, Miroslav Kalousek, repeatedly slapped a bystander who had spoken rudely to him. President Klaus said Friday that slapping someone did not seem appropriate to him, but said it might have been a mistake that he had never tried it himself. Mr Kalousek’s party leader, Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, said his deputy was justified in striking the 20-year-old – who had called out to Kalousek that he was a thief and should hang – adding that it was a shame that duels were a thing of the past. Neither believed there was any reason for the finance minister’s resignation.
A demonstration against local Roma planned for Saturday in the North Bohemian town of Rumburk has been cancelled. The organiser of the event officially withdrew his request for the assembly, saying he had been pressured specifically to do so. An influential local businessman had apparently publicly threatened to ban the organiser from various premises if he went ahead with the protest. The same individual organised the first large demonstration in the area several weeks ago, which later turned into an unplanned march through the town. Plans for a demonstration against the Roma are underway in nearby Varnsdorf. The area has seen a sharp increase in racial tensions over the past month that have spilled over into violence on some occasions.
A 73-year-old woman in the restive town of Varnsdorf was violently attacked on Friday, apparently because she bore the same last name as one of the organisers of recent anti-Roma demonstrations, Lukáš Kohout. She was knocked down by two masked men who injured her face and told her “that was for your son”. Police however said that there was no apparent racial aspect to the attack, and added that the woman is of no relation to Kohout. Lukaš Kohout is a notorious fraudster, well-known for having passed himself off as a government official on numerous occasions and for provoking police and demonstrators at protests.
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